Before college, I held steadfastly to the notion that you don’t move up to the next grade until the summer was over. On the last day of fifth grade, my teacher congratulated us on becoming sixth graders and I rolled my eyes (in fact, this teacher noted on my report card I needed to have less “attitude.” At least I was developing a sense of self early on…?) My parents, also proponents of the immediately-graduate-to-the-next-grade school of thought, asked me why I felt how I felt about this, and I had no solid reason. One that I clung to was that my Xth grade “education” hadn’t begun yet.
Unfortunately for me, college isn’t conducive to my excuse of choice, and I’m forced to admit I’m officially a senior. Part of me is hip with this idea, and I have a list of plans for my hypothetical apartment of the future, including an herb garden and a cabinet of mismatched mugs. Another part of me, a part I realize every senior unwittingly harbors, greets this new status with anxiety and unwillingness and trepidation and refusal (as if we can refuse!) Both sides of me, the ying-and-yang, the angel-and-devil, the child-and-adult, both cheer and groan as I begin to plan my future.
I’ve made a list of things I could do come graduation—jobs, grad schools, fellowships—and I stare at them forever, and my opinions remain constantly in flux. I wake up and one school seems perfect for my future, and if I don’t get in I will definitely die, and by the afternoon I’ve decided I need to get a specific job. By the time I’m back in bed, I’m weary again, and softly resolve not to do anything, and to create a humble-yet-livable dwelling in my parents’ backyard.
A secondary fear begins where I apply to everything on this list, and decide not to fuss over it until I receive decisions to pick and choose from. Come April, I start receiving letters and emails and phone calls individually rejecting me one-by-one, and then I’m forced into that backyard fate (at least I could build a warm fire with the letters?)
This cycle of worry transports me back to the 12th grade. At this time four years ago, I was “still a junior” by my standards and began looking at college pamphlets that mystically appeared in the mailbox. I was learning what Pomona was and thinking about whether I’d like it there. Colleges seemed to know I was coming, as if I had innocently waltzed onto the main staircase at a Debutante Ball. Now, the real world seems to greet me with fewer open arms. In fact, one might think that the arms are crossed, hands tucked underneath each other.
I guess now it’s time to wheedle my way in!